After wholesale changes, new coach excited to see what Chartiers Valley girls can do

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Sunday, December 4, 2022 | 11:01 AM


The Chartiers Valley girls basketball team in 2022-23 will definitely look different than it has the past four seasons both on the court and on the bench.

That may even be an understatement.

The past four seasons have gone tremendously well for the Colts.

Under the direction of longtime coach Tim McConnell, Chartiers Valley went 110-7 in the last four years, a run that included four section titles, three WPIAL titles, a state title and four appearances in both the district and state championships.

Gone from last year’s 28-win team are McConnell, who took over the boys program at Bishop Canevin, and six seniors who went on to play in college. Aislin Malcolm is at Pitt, Perri Page is at Columbia, Helene and Hallie Cowan are at Seton Hill, Marian Turnbull is at Northeastern and Abby Voites is at Westminster.

Remove all of that, and you’ve got the new-look Colts, a group that will be rather inexperienced as a whole on the varsity floor, but one, including new coach Mike Semplice, that has been around winning.

Semplice comes over from the Mt. Lebanon girls basketball staff, which, under Dori Oldaker, won WPIAL gold last season.

It’s the first head-coaching job for Semplice, who also coaches an AAU basketball team in Pittsburgh.

Semplice said he’s expecting junior Ella Cupka and sophomores Lilah Turnbull and Emma Reynolds to make big impacts this season, while shooters like sophomore guard/forward Ava Shazer and sophomore guards Iyla Ozbey and Natalia Palumbo figure to contribute as well.

Chloe Williams has also come around well, Semplice said.

“The transition has gone really well. A lot of the girls I mentioned didn’t have a ton of experience with Tim,” said Semplice. “It was like a fresh start. They’re buying into what we’re selling them right now, they’re bringing good energy and great commitment … all the things we’re looking to do to create a culture.”

The Colts are headed to Class 6A this season, which will consist of 13 teams. Chartiers Valley will join Section 2 and play against Baldwin, Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township and Upper St. Clair.

“We’re going to try and play up tempo. We probably won’t be able to generate the same amount of offensive production, but we want to play early in transition and defend hard,” said Semplice. “I like their style of play … very up tempo and aggressive. We might need to grind some teams out a bit, though.”

In terms of the new section, it will help that Semplice was in it the last few years.

“I think the section we’re entering (will be tough). Upper St. Clair is returning nearly everyone. Bethel Park is coached really well. Really, everyone is pretty good,” Semplice said.

The coach said he knows it helps to have a great player who can carry a team, and those players are gone for the Colts.

“We’re coming in with less experience and maybe more average talent than we’ve had in the past, but hopefully we can get them playing good basketball,” Semplice said. “We’re going to have to shoot the ball exceptionally well and we have some girls that can do that.”

At a glance

Coach: Mike Semplice

Last year’s record: 28-3 (10-0 in Section 1-5A)

Returning starters: None

Top newcomers: Ella Cupka (Jr., G), Lilah Turnbull (So., G), Emma Reynolds (So., F)

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